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Why should anyone be led by you?

November 2010 saw the ICAEW host a workshop for delegates addressing the topic ‘why should anyone be led by you?’ Event guest speaker Carly Tantau, director of financial services at professional staffing recruitment consultancy Barclay Meade, offers her insight into how candidates can best demonstrate leadership skills at interview.

Leaders today must cope with unprecedented amounts of change,moving at a faster pace. Firms employ leaders to steer them through strategic change and inspire others to follow them. At interview stage, leaders must demonstrate they possess leadership skills.

Assessing leadership

What is a leadership skill?
The Institute of Leadership & Management’s Model of Effective Leadership places leadership into three key aspects:

  • Knowing: possessing knowledge
  • Doing: theory into practice
  • Being: self awareness, integrity and emotional intelligence to engage others

Effective leaders display all three aspects; they are multi-faceted. In evaluating skills at interview, there are various assessment tools available to employers.

For example, the Thomas International Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire predicts how a candidate will perform in terms of managing their emotions in the work place. Why is this important? ILM research shows that emotional intelligence accounts for 31% of success in a leadership context.

The SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire can measure specific behavioural aspects that are critical to the performance required of a leader. The outcome of this questionnaire indicates a leader’s strengths and weaknesses,the interviewer can utilise these insights to direct their questions at second interview. Interpretation of the outcome can lead you to a development plan for selfimprovement,so I would also recommend independently taking the test.

insights to direct their questions at second interview. Interpretation of the outcome can lead you to a development plan for selfimprovement, so I would also recommend independently taking the test.

What do employers want a leader to demonstrate at interview? Amongst others, I spoke to Alan Whitford, founder of RCEURO.com and Monica Kar, co-founder of a successful IT software company.

They stated that leaders:
  • Embrace change
  • Are willing to take risks
  • Innovate
  • Show a willingness to learn
  • Inspire people to follow them
  • Achieve results.

Positioning yourself as a leader

When responding to difficult questions at interview, demonstrate your leadership skills through relevant and recent examples. This may come across as stating the obvious, but it is surprising how many forget to prepare. Think about your achievements and discuss how you got there.

Background research prior to interview is critical; synergising your leadership skills to an employer’s core values will generate credibility with the interviewer. For example, Tim Fetherston-Dilke, the UKI financial director of Accenture provided Accenture’s core values as:

One global network: deliver exceptional service to clients wherever they do business

Client Value Creation: consistently delivering value

Best people: Attracting, developing and retaining the best talent

Integrity: Being ethically unyielding and honest and inspiring trust

Respect for the individual: Valuing diversity and unique contributions

Stewardship: Fulfilling our obligation of building a better,stronger and more durable company for future generations

By assessing a potential employer’s core values, a candidate can ensure a fit between the culture of the organisation and their skills. In summary, the key points to note when demonstrating leadership skills at interview:

  • Effective leadership falls into three key skill areas: knowing, doing and being. Are you developing your leadership skills in all three areas?
  • Emotional intelligence is often ignored as it is harder to quantify and harder to evidence
  • From leadership skills assessment you can independently identify your weaknesses and create your own development plan
  • In demonstrating your leadership skill at interview, give relevant examples – think about your achievements and discuss how you got there
  • Demonstrate your desire to continuously learn.

Carly Tantau
Director, Financial Services

t +44 (0)20 3301 6808
e carly.tantau@barclaymeade.com